We often get asked why the hydrangea flowers are fading fast, and only look nice for a short amount of time. That can be due to many reasons, but it is typically just the natural progression of the plant and the flowers. There are some reasons why the flowers aren’t performing as well as they could be though.
- The hydrangea plant is stressed. Often the plant is not getting enough water, or too much water. The plant could also not be getting the proper amount of sunlight.
- There is a problem with the soil. Either the nutrients in the soil have been used up, or the pH is too acidic or alkaline. Most often the nutrients are the problem, and the plant just needs some fertilizer.
- There are pests causing stress on the plant. This also points to the first issue. But this is less common than sunlight or water being the problem.
Most often, having too much afternoon direct sunlight or not getting enough water is the problem. Applying a layer of mulch will help keep the soil moist and help protect the roots. In some cases, using a soaker hose to water can be a big help to combat hot afternoon summer days as well. Make sure those two scenarios are not the problem before troubleshooting any of the other problems listed.
Also, some hydrangea species have flowers that last longer than others. Hydrangeas with white flowers will often have flowers that start white, then turn to pink and eventually deep red. Those will last longer than a flower that starts blue, purple or pink.
To recap, here are the most common reasons why the hydrangea flowers would fade:
- Too much direct afternoon sunlight
- Not enough water
- Pests are causing stress
- Hydrangea needs fertilizer
- Normal progression of the flower
When to cut off old hydrangea flowers
Deadheading hydrangeas isn’t necessary for most types of hydrangeas, but can be helpful for the appearance of the plant. Once the flowers start to fade or turn brown, cut them off right underneath of the bloom. Be sure not to be too aggressive when cutting, especially in late fall. You could mistakenly cut off next year’s flower buds. Reblooming hydrangeas may be deadheaded after the first round of flowers start to die off. That should help encourage the plant to put its energy towards producing new flowers.
If you are interested in cutting the flowers off to use as a cut flower, here is a very helpful article to produce the best results:
Cut Hydrangea Flower Care
Be sure to check out these articles to help further troubleshoot your problems: